Two stories of purpose and perseverance teach us the first step: Deciding what matters most to you.
The Story of Ryan Gullett
Listening to the excitement in his voice, it was hard to believe 10 years had passed by.
Ryan Gullett was a recruited walk-on football player for the Arkansas Razorbacks from 1999 to 2003. "You have to have a passion for what you want to do," he said. You have to eat it, sleep it, breathe it--I love the sport of football. I love the competition, and I have always been determined to be the best. As a walk-on, I had to prove every day why I was there and why they should keep me on the team. Since I was a child, I had dreamed of kicking for the Razorbacks, and I had worked hard. My father and I had worked hard together."
He paused seeming to remember how much spending time with his father for all of those years had meant to him. Then he continued, "We probably kicked a million footballs in the rain, in sleet, and in snow."
After redshirting his freshman year, Ryan made the traveling team as the backup kicker. For the next four years of his college football career, Ryan practiced day after day but never made it into a game.
It was Senior Day in 2003; Ryan’s family was there along with approximately 55,000 fans. Sometime in the middle of the third quarter, Coach Houston Nutt hollered to Ryan, "This is your shot. This is your time. Go make it."
Ryan was caught off guard, "I waited five years to get on the field. There was no doubt I was going to make that kick." His voice slowed, "The ball was on the 27 yard line--right hash. I walked out on the field with my eyes on the uprights, stood behind the holder and walked 3 1/2 steps back--just like the million times with my dad.
"Head down. Kick it. Follow through. And the crowd will let you know if you make it or not."
As I listened to Ryan tell his story, my heart began to race.